Friday, September 17, 2010

Fruit & Vegetable Preparation

In one of my previous posts regarding the weekly shop (read here), I mentioned how I wash and cut most of my fruits and vegetables before I put them away.

This not only helps reduce food wastage, it also makes eating healthy easier and for the most part prolongs the life of your fresh produce.

Below is an A - Z list of the most popular fruits and vegetables that you can cut and store in the fridge ready for eating or cooking.

A -
Apples. Most apples will brown fairly quickly when cut, so leave these in their original package. Simply give them a good wash and store wherever you like. (Tip: leave them in a prominent place to encourage you and the kids to eat a healthy, nutritious snack!).
Avocado. Leave as is, but once open store in an airtight container. (Tip: Include the stone when storing. Not sure how, but it slows down the browning process. You can also add a little lemon juice over the fruit).

B -
Bananas. Bananas will brown when peeled, so leave them as is. (Tip - for a delicious banana icecream using ONE ingredient, check this site out!).
Broccoli. Wash. (Tip: Cut into florets and place in a container ready to be cooked). 
Berries. Raspberries, blueberries and other berries can be rinsed and stored in a small container.

C -
Capsicum. Rinse well. Either leave whole or cut into strips and store in an airtight container. 
Carrots. I store my carrots in the original bag, in the crisper. However if you enjoy munching on carrot sticks as much as my daughter does, you could peel a couple of carrots, cut into small sticks and store in a sealed container. (Tip: Try dipping in peanut butter. This was a great way to introduce my kids onto carrot sticks).
Cauliflower. Wash. (Tip: Cut into florets and place in a container ready to be cooked).  
Celery. Cut off base to seperate stalks. Take each stalk and remove the leaves. Cut into snack size sticks and wash well. Place in an airtight container. (Tip: The moisture from washing the celery will keep them firmer for longer).
Cherries - Rinse and store in an open container lined with paper towel. 
Cucumbers. If your fridge is too cold, these will freeze easily. I leave my cucumbers whole to make them last a little longer and keep them crisper.

G -
Grapes. Wash well and place in a container lined with paper towel. (Tip: Plucking the grapes from the vine will make an easier snack, but I'm sure they last a tad longer when left on).

H -
Herbs. Rinse well and place in an airtight container lined with paper towel. 

K -
Kiwifruit. Peel, cut into cubes and store in an airtight container.

L -
Leeks. If you know you will be using your leeks in an upcoming soup or casserole, cut the base and remove the tops. Cut the stem lengthways and slice into desired thickness. Make sure you rinse well as leeks can store a lot of dirt between layers.

M -
Melons. Cut open and then into bite size cubes with the skin removed. Store in an airtight container.
Mushrooms. The exception to the rule. Rinsing mushrooms before storing can make them yucky, so simply fold the bag over and store in the fridge not the crisper. Alternatively, store in a glass container and place a tea towel or moist paper towel over the top to allow air circulation.

O -
Oranges. Either leave whole in your fruit bowl or cut into small wedges with skin still intact. Store in an airtight container.

P -
Pineapple. Cut the top off and the base so that it sits evenly on a bench. Remove the hard outer skin. Lie the pineapple on its side and slice. Cut out the hard inner core and store in an airtight container.

Pears - Another fruit that will brown once open. Simply wash and store in a spot where they will not be bruised by other fruits. 

S -
Strawberries. Rinse and remove leaves. I don't hull until prior to eating to ensure they stay a little fresher. Place in an open container lined with paper towel.
Stonefruit - Peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots can all be washed and cut into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Sprouts - Rinse and store in a container lined with paper towel.
Spring Onions/Shallots - Rinse and remove any ends or limp bits. Either leave whole or cut to size and store in a container.

T -
Tomatoes. Rinse well and store in a fruit bowl. (Tip: I once heard a tomato farmer say the biggest mistake people make with their tomatoes is storing them in the fridge. In my humble opinion, tomatoes taste better and ripen better when left out of the fridge).

W -
Watermelon. Slice and cut into triangles or into small cubes. Store in an airtight container.

As a general rule, I leave my fresh produce to last when putting all the groceries away. Place the various fruits and vegetables in a strainer and rinse as many as you can together.

While some of the suggestions above will extend the life of your fruits and vegetables, I would still recommend using any cut produce within 3 - 4 days.


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